AT&T may be crying uncle about how much bandwidth 3G smartphone consumers use, but the firm is proud of the level of Wi-Fi service it offers: Wi-Fi is vastly cheaper to provide than 3G, and AT&T knows it. That's why the company has been expanding coverage to its customers both for improving loyalty and decreasing costs. (It's why I expect AT&T may offer its 3G femtocell at no cost to many customers, too.)
AT&T's Q3 2009 hotspot connection numbers are just crazy: 25.4m sessions, up from 15m the quarter before, a 66 percent increase. Of those connections, 60 percent were from "integrated devices," meaning smartphones. That makes sense given the release of iPhone OS 3, which provided an automatic login to AT&T hotspots for U.S. iPhone subscribers. (That could result in sessions in which the iPhone user had no idea the phone connected and retrieved email or performed other tasks while ostensibly asleep.)
The company reports that 27m of its customers now have free access to its 20,000 hotspot U.S. network.